KEY WORD : art history / iconography
A Shinto deity. Although the word deity may imply a singular definite presence, kami have no fixed number, form or gender. All humans are considered to become kami after death, and historically when a particularly important kami results from death, as in the case of Fujiwara no Kamatari 藤原鎌足 (614-69, see *Kamatari 鎌足) and Sugawara no Michizane 菅原道真 (845-903; see *tenjin 天神) the tale of the death and burial of the man are included in the history of the kami. Kami may be or reside in places and features of the landscape which they can desert if they are unhappy. They reside in *shintai 神体 (the body of the god) often within shrines and are moved in portable ritual objects called himorogi 神籬 which are usually made of sakaki 榊, a sacred plant in Shinto, but may also be of other plants as favoured by the kami in question. Kami can be moved provided proper ritual procedures are observed. Kami may be asked for advice and are given offerings in the form of food, music, art, poetry, dance and so on. From the late 7c under Shinto/Buddhist syncretism, shinbutsu shuugou 神仏習合 a way of thinking developed in which the kami came to be seen as the local Japanese manifestations *suijaku 垂迹 of the universal Buddhist deities *honjibutsu 本地仏.

*Shintou bijutsu 神道美術

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